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RIM vs. NTP: Only in America

The big settlement case this months shows how frivolous lawsuits have to be reined in

The biggest story this month in the IT industry is the RIM-NTP settlement. This US$612 million case gets a lot of people’s dander up in Canada. Canadians are quite patriotic when one of their own is getting the shaft, particularly when the shaft is coming from Americans.

I may be among the minority here, but I do not echo some of the unkind things many people here say about our neighbours to the south.

I don’t like NTP. They do not make any products. They do not deliver any valuable service. Sure they have the law on their side, in this particular case, but that is it.

Meanwhile, RIM is the real victim because they actually make real products that solve real business and personal communications problems.

A lot of people will look back on this lawsuit and say: “Well, it was just business!” What I believe is that NTP was about to do a real disservice to Americans, never mind Canadians.

You see, U.S. businesses and government workers have fallen in love with the BlackBerry.

For example, the BlackBerry is credited with helping resolve the NFL collective bargaining dispute between the 32-team owners and the players union.

According to the NFL Network, the players’ proposal was sent over via BlackBerry to the NFL owners meeting in Grapevine, Texas. The approval was also relayed back to players union boss Gene Upshaw via BlackBerry.

This exchange saved valuable time and enabled the league and its players to make its self-imposed deadline.

Last year former CBS reporter John Roberts, a Canadian, was pinged on his BlackBerry informing him that Yasser Arafat had died. Roberts was at U.S. President George W. Bush’s press briefing and was able to get reaction from the President on this major news item.

NTP really put RIM and its customers behind the eight ball with this frivolous lawsuit. NTP was only interested in money – not solving business problems.

I understand that the law is the law and that NTP held those particular patents, but in the interest of the economy and informing the public (which always has a right to know) the U.S. courts should have dismissed this case a long time ago.

While this is a pie-in-the-sky notion, it is also one that deserves some thought. Why is it that people in America can sue major corporations over the slightest inconvenience – such as the woman scalded by McDonald’s coffee or the Minnesota Timberwolves spectator who was hit inadvertently with a ball by NBA superstar Kevin Garnett.

This sort of thing simply does not take place in Canada. Only in America.